The Battle of the….Book

I am changed, since my last blog entry. I am older, more out-of-shape and have abraded my retinas into shadows of their former selves.

In other words, I read a book.

The sequence of events went something like this:

I heard Donna Tartt had written a new book. I requested the book through the library, figuring it would be months before one of the library’s 18 copies made its way to little old me. [I mean, I requested The Death of Bees and waited 6 or 9 months for it. By the time I finally got it, I couldn’t even remember where I’d heard of it or why I’d requested it in the first place. (Good book, though.)]

Around the same time I had a thought that I should devote November to that all-consuming challenge that is Nanowrimo and finally pen that book about absolutely nothing I’ve been thinking about.

But suddenly it was November 1st and I hadn’t come up with anything resembling a plan. And if you’re off to a bad start on day 1, what – even – is the point of pursuing the matter? And then the library sent me an email that my loaner copy of Goldfinch was waiting for me?! And I had two choices: cancel the ‘hold’ and wait another 5 months to read the book, or read the book and cancel Nanowrimo.

And then, just as I was [notreally] making a decision about which ‘road’ to take, a friend loaned me her copy of Wool and I noticed on the back cover that the author spent three years writing it and I felt frivolous for thinking the 30-days-of-November might in any way be sufficient to record absolutely nothing.

Hence, I chose The Goldfinch.

Because Tartt’s ‘Secret History‘ was one of the first books I read when I re-entered the reading world after a twelve-year hiatus, during which the only reading I did was of the sleepily distracted textbook variety. I’d wandered into a WH Smith during our tenure in London – back when I was still buying books because I didn’t have any little people to feed and clothe – and picked up a paperback copy from the popular-book display case.

It was good, so good that I actually read it twice. (See previous comment about not having people to feed or clothe.)

Fast forward 11 years and of course I couldn’t wait to read a book she spent 11 years writing. (See previous comment about it being frivolous to think 30 days might be sufficient.)

So I opened the book and I started reading. I read. And I read. And I read. I’d made significant butt-dents in the couch and the armchair and my bed. I could actually feel my muscles atrophying. And after what felt like days, I realized I hadn’t quite read a quarter of the book.

Because the book is sevenhundredandseventyone pages long.

771.

Apparently, when you spend 11 years writing a book, it’s either hard to keep it short, or you just.don’t.want.to. As if to say ‘hey, it took me 11 years to write this, it should take you 11 years to read it.’

Fair enough. But, as Stephen King pointed out in his review of said book, ‘in this hurry-scurry age, big books are viewed with suspicion, and sometimes disdain.’

True ‘dat.

So, because I value anyone who’s actually read this, a post about a very long book, and because today is apparently my ‘6 year blog anniversary’ (according to the faux-celebratory notification I received from WordPress), I offer you this gift: a summary of The Goldfinch.

Tragedy. Introspection in the context of Art and Antique Furniture Restoration. Drug Addiction. Drug-riddled Introspection contemplating Art, Antique Furniture and Wealth. Tragedy. Introspection about Art and Antique Furniture Restoration. Drug Addiction. Tragedy. Drug Addiction. Introspection about Art, Antique Furniture Restoration, Wealth and Love.

It would all have been much more meaningful had I not kept looking at the page number, mentally calculating howmanymorepages to the end.

If you’re looking for the LOL and, with such dire subject matter and circumstance (and so much of it!), who would blame you? Here’s a hint, it happens on p.547 (as told by Boris, the non-Jewish Russian friend to the protagonist, Theo):

‘Things were getting out of hand…I needed to….do something else for a while…..I told Bobo Silver I was Jewish…because I wanted him to hire me. I thought a tattoo would be a good thing – to convince him…. Had a guy do it who owed me a hundred bucks. Made up big sad story, my mother Polish Jew, her family in concentration camp – stupid me, I did not realize that tattoos were against the Jewish law.’

The End.

771 words.

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5 thoughts on “The Battle of the….Book

  1. 771 pages summarized in 779 words… so obviously you could condense 11 years into 11 days…. there is still time.. write that book…write that book (am I the only one chanting?)

  2. Usually with those kind of books, I read the first few chapters to see who the characters are, read the last chapter to see if I like the ending and if it’s worth going back to finish it. I know – I’m “one of those” but I get impatient. 😦

    Twana Johnson
    Serving in Mexico

  3. This was Pillars of the Earth for me!!!! That book was pure torture! May as well take the waaaaaayyyyy too long book and just knock me out with it!!

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